Soulmancer – Chapter 6: D-rank Raid II

After contemplating his strategy and the dwindling raid time that unsettled his mind, he tightened his fists and adhered to the ‘No way out’ plan.

[Mossy Mud (F)]

[Artificially created mud that had existed in old, ruined buildings for thousands of years. It can be used by rubbing it on your body.

Duration: 5 hours.

Effect: Prevents emitting sound or magic. The host cannot be discovered by sound, scent, or other sensory D-rank abilities. Also, it had a high combustion rate; if kindled, it burned fiercely.

Demerit: The host perceives a terrible stench.]

He anticipated the usefulness of this purchase before agreeing to the raid. The decision stemmed from news about a renowned hunter surviving a dungeon using [Mossy Mud] to evade orc detection. And since Izel never knew when it might come in handy, he searched for it and purchased such an item for only ten Verdes.

“No one can be too careful.” He thought aloud. Sealing off the blister packs of mossy mud, he covered himself in it. Izel’s lips trembled and his face distorted. The scent reminded him of a rotting egg, which he despised; rather, he hated the raw scent of an egg. Plus, mixed with decayed flesh, he tried his best to ignore it. Anyways. He didn’t know about other monsters, but this would be more than enough to get past the wolves.

Even wolves with heightened detection senses couldn’t sense him when covered in this mud, even within their sensory range. ‘Since this is settled’, His mind pondered his plans: ‘If I killed all the patrons and gained extra stats, and eventually got past the entrance without being detected…’ Izel placed his hand on the top of his upper lip. The problem was that any blood that splattered, or even if the whimper of a wolf howl within its range of the wolf guards was heard, they would swarm back in to apprehend the intruder.

“If so, all my plans, including the ‘No way out’ plan, will be for nothing.” The blind man sighed at the predicted outcome of his ongoing plan. Normally, if wolf guards were sighted in a dungeon, that would mean there would be wolf soldiers. Guards, soldiers (patrols), and boss monsters had clear and distinct roles. Wolves that knew how to coordinate needed to be intelligent, similar to the other one who tried to sneak attack him.

“More so, according to the situation faced, their intelligence could spike up and be more alert.” Izel knew that while a D-rank dungeon was within the scope of an E-rank hunter, it couldn’t be easily raided. Above all, he might not be able to clear it even if he risked his life. That, as long as the Wolf guards were stationed, he would never be able to overpower them.

“I will need twenty E-rank hunters like me to hunt this level.” He assumed. In other words, one needed a D-rank party to slay all such units of Wolves, so there was no way he could do that alone. Objectively, his stats were still physically weak; he might have gained a few skills on the last raid and would have gained extra stats if he slayed the patrols. However, any confrontation above E-rank before the Snake Lord would be futile.

Even the one active skill that could help him wouldn’t activate unless he killed something. Then, how will he slay the rest of the wolves inside the ‘entrance’ and subjugate the snake lord, Avalanche, without the Guards’ realization?

“…!”

Momentarily, a crazy and insane idea popped into his head as he sneered. The only way was to utilize ‘disruption and distraction’ procedures.

“But in this case, it would be used against a group of monsters.” He murmured as the details flashed in his mind. Causing chaos within their ranks, slaying the majority of the wolves inside the entrance to gain leverage…

“And bam, slay the snake.” Izel’s lips formed a satisfying smile at that wonderful thought-out plan; however, he shook his head; he mustn’t think the plan would proceed so easily. No matter how great the plan is, in the fortress of dungeons, a single mishap could crumble it all, instantly ending his life.

Plus, considering the ridiculously short time limit, if an uncalculated variable appears, he might not have enough time to recover. Once again, he memorized the plan’s calculated facts, which he mustn’t do at all costs.

Overpowering wolves above E-rank wasn’t an option, and the goal of subjugation would be near impossible with wolf guards on duty. The mossy mud wouldn’t change that fact. So the utilization of haste movements and precise slaying are needed.

‘Let’s make haste.’ He silently resolved as he commenced his plan in an abandoned grocery store located far to the east of the ruined futuristic subway.

Time remaining: 11 hours and 12 minutes.

Gathering dry vines, he coated their edges with mossy mud for improved combustion and ignited them by condensing mana into his index fingertip like a gas igniter. The blind man lit a few torches similarly, nervously perceiving the dancing, partially magical blue flames. He then stored them according to his inventory.

[Affirmative]

[Objects in a combustion state detected.]

The forum had all kinds of fabricated and sincere information about the fortress, its systems, and walkers’ systems always flowing in and out. And “How the Fortress’ inventory worked” is one of them. Though it’s deactivated when a raid commences, Izel realized it was still possible to store pre-combustion objects there, seemingly like a bug in the system so no familiar rupture was heard by the blind man only the feminine voice declaring, the object’s current tendencies are detected.

[Object combustion had been halted.]

Izel doesn’t know how such a bugged phenomenon exists or for what purpose. Regardless, it’s useful to him now, and he is happy to utilize it. In short, the torches stay lit and frozen while inside the inventory.

‘Hehe, that’s what I called convenient. He proudly assumed, If only I could have this on Elilaum.’ He began to wonder about the suitability of the inventory in the outside world. He could sign up for an ‘escort guild’ and grind as a transporter for important items without having to pay for transporter fees, carrier trunks, flying ships bills, and profit-draining additional taxes.

The thought of entering the smuggling and porter business briefly flashed through his mind—the awakened world of monsters’ carcasses, fragments, and weapons transportation would receive a leap in revolution, and the etheric world of opportunity would skyrocket.

“Now, let’s concentrate on the matter at hand.” He settled on focusing on the current situation for now; he held his breath in anticipation and began moving. Firstly, stealthily slaying all the patrols with pinpoint accuracy and precision.
Slashing off their necks is sufficient. Blood littered the surroundings crimson.

[You have slain the Requiem Wolf.]

[You have slain the Requiem Wolf.]

[You have slain the Requiem Wolf.]

[You have slain the Requiem Wolf.]

[You have slain…]

[….]

Since all six Soldier Wolves shattered about three meters in diameter from the main ‘entrance’ were mostly E-rank, they wouldn’t expect such (due to mossy mud) sneak-chained attacks. “Ah, that was pretty dodgy.” Izel gasped for air as he shook off the blood dripping from his longsword.

Soon after, he carried all the carcasses to a different location to devour the bodies, leaving one carcass for his next plan.

[Special conditions have been met. Activating ‘Soul Assimilation (E)’]

[Effect(1):Transduction has been activated.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[Capacitance: 5/10.]

Without hesitation, he activated the next effect of [Soul Assimilation] for extra stats.

[Bonus Effect (2): Augmentation has been activated.]

[Augmentation has been acknowledged. Permanently augmenting stats using the essence reserves…]

[Strength augmented by 2.]

[Mana augmented by 4.]

[Stamina augmented by 3.]

[Agility augmented by 4.]

[Capacitance: 0/10.]

Alerts reverberated in his mind as he increased his stats with the wolves’ transmuted souls (essences). If he continued farming stat points, he would have a much better chance against the Avalanche.

“Now then, let’s proceed to the next stage of the plan, ‘disruption and distraction’.” He murmured. Shortly, he began to bisect the last corpse into tiny pieces and tie them together to the plucked, dry, thick vines. He consequently found some silky, thin vines lying about, and the outer layers were covered with mossy mud.

Without delay, he began to spray the finished product of the bisected carcass over the entire area from the range of the Guards’ detection, sprinkling the final pieces of corpses to the far end he could explore. About to take out the torches, a strange, unexpected notification popped from his inventory.

[Invaild! Hidden Bug of the fortress’ Inventory had been found and fixed by the administrator.]

“What a bummer!” Izel clicked his tongue in disappointment. He sighed, as this was one of the unexpected mishaps that could happen in the fortress, condensing mana onto his fingertips as a gas igniter. He began igniting them manually and sequentially, he strolled back. As the mossy mud boasts of its high combustion rate, everything was quickly set ablaze since the subway dungeon had generally transformed into a somewhat old forest.

“Let’s wait till the scent tickles their nostrils with the smoke.” He thought aloud as he hurried back to the initial location where he had once discovered the Wolf Guards.

Time remaining: 8 hours and 46 minutes.

In truth, the preparation and utilization of all the plans he could think of took too much time, due to the quick fix of a hidden bug in the inventory took more time than that, but if this worked, then…

It’s all worth it. He thought as he attentively watched the Guards. Exactly three minutes passed, which was a bit more than he intended.

GRRRRRR!

KRRRRRR!

Utilizing his [Flawlation], two Guards exchanged glances, instinctively sniffing at the faintly blackened misty air tendrils approaching them—a scent reminiscent of their kin, tingling their nostrils.

After intelligently nodding to the confirmation of their kin, they hurriedly leaped toward the mist to investigate the reason why they could smell the scent of their kin.

“Yes! The plan worked.” He chuckled silently. See that, admin, it works out, sucker. He inwardly mused. Those crazy methods of planning did pay off. However, he had no time to pat himself on the shoulder; he had to proceed without delay. All he had to do now was farm more stats before he got to the Snake Lord. He lay low on the ground and crawled through the mossy entrance.

Honestly, Izel wanted to mull over a plan to lure the Guards to an advantageous spot and deal with them. But ultimately, due to limited ticking time, it would have been a drag. He might even die battling the Wolf Guards. Plus, the effect of the mossy mud would soon run out.

‘There is no need to hesitate.’ He declared. Although it was strange that the objective was subjugation, the raid made it very difficult to do so. Now inside the entrance. The dismantled interior is rather dimly lit, with flickers of archaic faulty overhead bulbs and the rotting scent of decayed carcasses shattered about stinging his nose. The ground was rather wet from occasional drops and the stagnant flow of water from a broken water system somewhere, as the sound frequencies jammed his [Sound Reading]. Together, the experience inside the mossy place was far too nasty.

‘Yikes, this stinks.’ Izel pinched his nose and spit out saliva as he attentively crawled deeper. If Izel could go directly to the Snake Lord, it would be a rather efficient course, but if he could slay at least ten Wolf Soldiers, he could change the tides of the battle with the boss monster. Since the ‘kin scent’ was ultimately spread out far, the Guards wouldn’t be coming anytime soon.

“Mostly five hours if they searched deeper.” The blind man hypothesized. He hadn’t sensed any wolves, just like the first time he entered the subway. Overwhelming silence harboring the feeling of bloodlust and the absence of sound waves, ripples, scents, and mana. The death that lingered in the air tensed his neck. If they could sense the intruder, they’re ready to pummel on whoever it is.

It seems all the wolves were cautious and had a notion they had become prey. Though they couldn’t sense who entered their base, instead of rushing in stupidly to inspect, they tended to watch who that predator was and how to lower its guard and increase the chance of hunting it down.

With his fist tightly clenching his hilt, he continued as the Wolf Guard cries predominantly shriek, slowly drowning out in the distance, causing goosebumps to rise on his body as they reached his [Sound Reading].

“There isn’t any time to waste.” He murmured that no more mishap could transpire. With a low profile. He crawled into a cavern-like interior, covered in more dense mossy mud, through the huge, distorted, barely lit passage, with hidden hideouts everywhere, akin to the construction of a honeycomb.

“So, this was the secret unregistered areas (blanks) on the map.” Aghast, he murmured under his voice at how the outline of the interior looked like a maze-like large den with bunches of hideouts. ‘But why was such a place blank though?’ He wondered hopelessly.

Finally, in the so-called den, amidst multiple overwhelming wolf soldiers, Izel was sure he could fight them all to increase his stats. Yet he couldn’t ever be too careful; after all, a single mistake might end up costing him his life.

* * *

Through [Flawlation] and deep concentration, he could perceive the black outline and very faint sound waves of the scattered, insurmountable amount of Wolf Soldiers in their hideouts, along with the sound frequencies jamming his [Sound Reading]. Izel kept his breath steady while crawling, carefully avoiding any detection of the wolves.

‘Let’s conclude the final stage before meeting the Snake Lord.’ He considered, as he slowly changed its route to a ticket auction little depot, a bit bigger than a pub for his preparation. Which was disorientated and disarrayed with broken glass cracks on walls some were smashed while insurmountable vines crawled about and moss filled both the ceiling and walls, a few dim lights here and there, but not too brightened. It was a well-suited place for his plan.

Once inside. Occasionally, he would observe wolves in their cave-like hideouts; their movements and actions due to his [Sound Reading] bodily response effect.

Regardless, the Wolves weren’t strong past E-rank monsters. Just like the patrols Izel killed. At least that was his evaluation.
They were watchful and observant; they knew what the guards’ howls were about. Their empathetic link was another characteristic of the [Wolf] species. Unfortunately, they never knew there was a flaw in their detection.

Time remaining: 7 hours and 32 minutes.

Soon, as if tired of observation and the increase in their wariness skyrocketed, two or so Wolf soldiers were dispatched to scan the surroundings for any intruders, as the Guards had instructed from the earlier howl.

KRRR! KYRAH!

The low roar of wolf soldiers communicated among themselves, tilting their heads as they searched everywhere chaotically.

KWRR! KGRAH!

Pale-faced at howl in the distance, Izel knew he needed to be silent and unnoticed to execute the final stage of his plan. He called the last blister packs of old mossy muds, sealed off four blister packs, and sprayed them about the little depot.

“These should be perfect for spreading thick, milky smoke from a fire.” The blind man murmured, lighting it with mana from his fingertips. After ten minutes, the fire spread wildly as the moss and dry vines burst into life of their own. However, Izel needed the smoke, not the fire, to obstruct their view of how the last few minutes of the mossy mud he encased around his body would run out.

Soon enough, the dense, gray, and hazy smoke gradually clogged the atmosphere as Izel tied a blindfold from his pocket-sized bag to his nose and mouth to prevent difficulties in breathing amidst the smoke. Such delicate preparation is needed to hunt intelligent monsters.

Since all of the prey were hesitant to come out of their cave-like hideouts, he deemed that this smoke would also disrupt sound waves, so he could take his sweet time and hunt them without any interference from unexpected variables like the guards.

Amidst those, instead of hiding out in a stall and waiting for them to leave their hideout, he began to hunt the patrol one by one like a predator.

Stealthy splashed off each of their guts, perfectly arched swinging his longsword coated in mana at every hidden patrol in all directions. He mustn’t be hesitant to reveal his skills. Blood splashed like fountains, littering everywhere in crimson. And without delay, the skill ‘Soul Assimilation’ activated, in which he retracted himself from devouring the last corpse.

[Special conditions have been met. Activating ‘Soul Assimilation (E)’]

The usual messages stung his mind as the next concise alerts rang through.

[Effect(1): Transduction has been activated.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[You have devoured the Essence of Requiem Wolf.]

[Capacitance: 4/10.]

Without hesitation, he activated the next effect of [Soul Assimilation] for extra stats. A few more transmuted souls (essence) crammed his mental storage and soon vanished simultaneously.

[Bonus Effect (2): Augmentation has been activated.]

[Augmentation has been acknowledged. Permanently augmenting stats using the essence reserves…]

[Strength augmented by 1.]

[Mana augmented by 3.]

[Constitution augmented by 3.]

[Stamina augmented by 1.]

[Agility augmented by 4.]

[Capacitance: 0/10.]

With every increase in stats, he could feel himself getting stronger; his movement became faster, and his mana increased as well. His constitution which meant the state of his body that could handle all the increase in stats augmented by [3], in which he felt more flexible and light. Moreover, the gap between the Snake Lord and him should only get shorter. Well, at least that was what he thought anyway.

After that, the blind man tossed the corpse into the fire to accelerate the process. Soon, the beasts would investigate the scent of chaos in the air. The smoke should be enough to corral them. Above all, the smoke and their kin scent spread at a rapid pace.

Moments later…

As anticipated from the Guards’ reaction, the scent dispersed among the remaining Soldiers’ Wolves.

“KYRGH?”

“GRRRRR!”

The air was filled with loud whimpers as the creatures leaped out from their hideouts, charging towards the mist of smoke. Possessing a keen sense of smell, they could detect their kin’s scent within it. The blind man, unaware of his actions’ consequences, had effectively lured them out. While it might appear as a mere method to draw them out, it held a deeper significance for the creatures.

The scent of their kin held a horrifying meaning for the wolves – a sign that their kin were in trouble or had died. It raised many questions among them: Who killed their kin? Were there intruders? How many were involved? And where did it happen?
They moved amidst the smoke in confusion.

“KYGH!?”

“GRRRR!”

More horrified cries as each of them was taken aback as they moved in search of the direction of the smoke, hoping the dense mist would disrupt their detection and vision to fade.

[The 5-hour limit of the mossy mud has been met.]

As soon as the notification reached his mind, the mossy mud on his body vanished. By that time, this blind man was already standing firm in front of the black outline of wolves amid the misty smoke on a white interior background.

“There wouldn’t be a better opportunity than this.” He murmured. Despite his words, his heart was burdened with fear, and he was wary in case the Wolf Guards happened to return early; he knew it would be all over. Nonetheless, there was no need to ponder about it anymore. He just had to move according to the plan. On guard, he crept through thick smoke, racing as rapidly yet quietly as he could toward the nearest foe.

“G-Grrrr…?!” Sensing danger, the Wolf panicked and spun around. Izel shoved the sword into its stomach. There was no way it could have reacted to this; without even so much as a whimper, the Wolf stumbled backward.

“…?”

“What?!” Murmured. The blind man was taken aback; its stomach stopped bleeding as its mana stiffened its muscles. It was strange yet typical of a D-rank beast; such a wolf could do this to halt its bleeding.

“Which means only the patrols were lessened than D rank,” Izel concluded. However, it didn’t change anything. His eyes underneath his blindfold narrowed in intense malice.
In contrast, perhaps as a beast instinct, according to the Guards’ earlier howl, this must be the intruder and also the one who killed and burned the corpses of the initially dispatched wolf soldiers. It’s finally clicked. The wolf let out a voiceless whimper before glancing back with murderous malice.

if it was during the tutorial, such intense gazes and bloodlust might have unnerved him. However, he had faced more intense gazes from the goblin king. “Ugh!” A slight flinch and a throbbing in his head reminded him of accumulated trauma, but he steadied his breath and calmed his heartbeat through mental fortitude, gripping his sword’s hilt tightly.

The wolf lunged at him, and without hesitation, Izel drove his sword straight through its jaw.

“RA…WR!”

With a weak breath, the wolf collapsed to the ground, lifeless, blood-staining the damp earth.

As the wolf leaped toward him, Izel thrust his sword straight through its jaw without any hesitation.

“RA…WR!” Letting out a weak breath, the wolf fell to the ground, lifeless. Blood littered the partially wet ground.

[Special conditions have been met. Activating ‘Soul Assimilation (E)’]

[You have devoured the Essence of (D-) rank Requiem Wolf.]

[Capacitance: 1/10.]

“(D-) rank Requiem Wolf!” Exactly as he anticipated. It marked the start of the intense battle against the (D-) rank monsters, a challenge tougher than the patrols, albeit reduced by the Guards within the mist. When the chilling coercion of a blind man who was obsessed with surviving subconsciously landed on each Wolf, he approached them one by one, after many struggles with them as the beasts also unleashed unexpected traits yet befitting of their rank. Yet, he slashed off their heads in the end.

Each skirmish added to his fatigue and anxiety, intensifying his trauma. Blood covered his blades, cloak, and hands, staining the surroundings in sticky crimson. Exhausted and gasping for air, Izel relentlessly attacked without respite in an unexpected and grueling battle.

Remaining time: 5 hours and 56 minutes.

Only two hours had elapsed, yet they felt like an inferno of struggle and torment.

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